Photo books have become very poplar in recent years. While many photos are finished using film laminates which are available in a variety of smooth finishes such as Gloss, Luster, Satin, as well as textured finishes such as linen, canvas and leather. Liquid laminates are becoming increasingly popular, especially among the mid to high volume producers. Liquid laminates are much faster, less labor intensive, less expensive and in some cases can also add texture to the images.
Cost of a small-format UV liquid coater with texturing capabilities can range from $29K for a 17-inch (43cm) model up to $57K for 36-inch wide (91.4cm) models.
Recommendation: UV liquid coater for mid to high volume producers.
Laminating Canvas (Giclee/Fine Art) Inkjet Prints
Laminating Giclee and other high end inkjet output on canvas and other media can be done by either a liquid or film. While very good results can be achieved by film laminates, many artists still tend to favor a (aqueous or solvent based) liquid as they are more comfortable applying a liquid spray or rolled on coating than a "plastic". Both film overlaminates and liquids can provide UV protection required when fortified with the proper UV absorbers and light stabilizers.
Typical water based (aqueous) coatings, depending on the application range in cost from two to 26 cents per square foot. Aqueous liquid sheet fed coaters cost between $5,000 for a 17-inch-wide (43cm) model and $8,000 for a 24-inch-wide model. A 60 inch (152cm) roll-to-roll aqueous liquid coater costs approximately $16,000.
Recommendation: Aqueous liquid coating or overlaminating film.
Laminating Soft Truck Sides
While soft truck sides are not as popular in North America as they are in Europe, the application is growing in popularity. Protecting heavy duty PVC Vinyl graphics up to 10 feet (three meter) wide is normally done with aqueous UV liquids, primarily due to their long term outdoor durability characteristics, generally as part of a warranty system. Film overlaminates are unavailable wider than 96 inches (two meters), are often too costly and not flexible enough for the rigors of constant rolling and unrolling.
Aqueous liquid coaters cost approximately $20,000 for a model 75 inches (190cm) wide and $35,000 for one 128 inches (3.25m) wide.
Recommendation: Aqueous liquid coating
Laminating Vehicle Wrap Graphics
Most vehicle graphics printed on vinyl are protected with either a cast/calendared PVC vinyl film or liquid laminate. Film laminates are preferred by some because the additional thickness a film provides may make installation easier. Others prefer liquid because of the lower cost and its conformability. The option of a liquid coating onto some of the thinner calendared vinyl (3.5 mil) is now gaining popularity due to its lower cost and ease of application. Many companies now offer long term outdoor warranties using a combination of cast/calendared materials and liquid laminates
Aqueous liquid coaters can range from $16,000 for a model 60 inches (152cm) wide to $20,000 for one that is 75 inches (190cm) wide.
Recommendation: Film overlaminate or aqueous liquid coating. UV coating may be an option soon as the first wide-format roll-to-roll UV coaters are hitting the market now and warranties are expected to follow soon.
Lamination Wall Graphics
Most digital printed wall graphics are protected using liquid laminates because it is difficult to achieve both conformability to heavy textured wallpapers and flame retardancy as is often required for most films.
Recommendation: Aqueous or UV liquid coating.
This list is by no means comprehensive; there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when deciding on the most appropriate finishing system for your application. Check with your vendor for specific recommendations.